Monday, February 13, 2017

Smoky Mountain Spring Wildflowers

Hepatica- 2-13-2017 Growing From Charred Ground
I spent another few days in the Smokies at a Volleyball tournament (granddaughters team were 13-year-old gold champions) and was able to sneak out a couple of mornings to the park. The first morning was to Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse near Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area. It was a warm morning and nice walk but no wildflowers. I had heard Hepatica was being found blooming in places which was one reason I was looking.

On Monday morning, I went to one of my favorite trails; the Cove Hardwoods Nature Loop at the Chimney Tops Picnic Area. There, I found the recent wild fires and storms have caused much damage. But, the wildflowers seem to have survived. Many early hepatica were blooming and provided a much needed wildflower fix until spring comes to West Virginia. 

And if there's not enough to worry about in the world, there's this!!

I was afraid to turn my back on it

Actually, this was storm damaged and in danger of falling on the trail. I've never seen anything marked like this..

Nothing is fairer, if as fair, as the first flower, the hepatica. I find I have never admired this little firstling half enough. When at the maturity of its charms, it is certainly the gem of the woods. What an individuality it has! No two clusters alike; all shades and sizes. A solitary blue-purple one fully expanded and rising over the brown leaves or the green moss, its cluster of minute anthers showing like a group of pale stars on its little firmament, is enough to arrest and hold the dullest eye.

John Burroughs

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Orchids? In Winter?

It's the dead of Winter and it's been very cold and snowy for a couple of days. Church was canceled all day because of 2 degree temps this morning, -20 windchill and snow. I had enjoyed a football game and quite a bit of reading (This Strange Wilderness The Life and Art of John James Audubon by Nancy Plain) but was getting a little bit of cabin fever. At 4 o'clock, it was a balmy 8 degrees (fahrenheit) so I went for a walk in the woods nearby. I first noticed this Rattlesnake Orchid seed head and then decided to look for Pink and Yellow Ladyslippers which I knew were nearby.
So, yes, you can find Orchids in Winter..

By the way, this is my first post of 2017. In January 2013, I
began finding, photographing and identifying every
West Virginia wildflower I could find. I found over 300
that year and currently have found 349. I am fascinated
to see that people from many countries read this blog.
(United States, Canada, France, Ukraine, Poland, Brazil, Spain,Turkey, Austria, Australia, Russia, China, Germany, United Kingdom, Romania, Ireland, Indonesia )
Please let me know what you think of it in the comment box
Rattlesnake Orchid Seedhead

Yellow Lady Slipper Seedhead

Pink Lady Slipper Seedhead 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Fall 2016

#349 - Starry Campion (Silene stellata)
The weather in West Virginia is beautiful early in the fall. It has been very dry and warm but wildflowers are in great shape. On a couple of recent hikes, I have found several old friends in forest and field and a new one as well.                                                                                                                 While at Sandstone Falls on the New River Gorge National River I found this interesting flower. Starry Campion, also known as Widows Frill. (Silene stellata)
It is not very common and is rare or threatened in some places. It has distinctive whorl of four leaves as seen in the second picture

Nodding ladies tresses from around my home


Sunday, September 11, 2016

West Virginia Early Fall Hike

Our church picnicked at Camp Creek State Park and I hiked on a couple trails and saw some nice flowers including a new one or two. Below are pictures of flowers and other finds from today.

This was a very interesting plant that I found near a seep. I've never seen it before and I really like the lemon/mint odor and beautiful flowers. It is in the mint family and some sources identify it as threatened or endangered. It is a commonly used herbal remedy, often used for a descriptively name malady; "minister's sore throat." 
This is a new find for my attempt to find, photograph and ID as many of West Virginia's
wildflowers as I can

                                    #348 Collinsonia canadensis    

                            Citronella horsebalm, Richweed, Stoneroot



                                                                                                            Collinsonia canadensis   


  Citronella horsebalm, Richweed, Stoneroot

Cardinal Lobelia 

Great Blue Lobelia

Light colored Great Blue Lobelia 


Beech Drops

Maidenhair fern


Friday, July 29, 2016


In the winter, I find myself paying more attention to birds, but so far have resisted the full fledged birding bug. In Florida a couple years ago, during my normal pre-trip internet search of outdoor possibilities, I became aware of a bird called Painted Bunting. I tried a time or two to see it at feeders in their state parks, but did not connect. So, when I was looking at the areas near Myrtle Beach State Park, I saw that Huntington Beach State Park has a nature center with feeders that are regularly visited by Painted Buntings. But, when I arrived at Myrtle Beach and checked their web site for opening time, I saw that the nature center had burned to the ground the prior week. I went anyways and arrived before 7 am. There was nothing  left of the nature center or its feeders. So, I roamed around checking the area but no luck. I have the Audubon app on my phone so I checked it and found a recording of its song. After listening several times and reading they like to sing from treetops, I started hearing a couple in the distance. I spent time traipsing through brush, briars and spiderwebs hearing them and finally perched myself in a spot where I had heard one several times and was rewarded by one in a treetop quite a distance away. My 200 mm lens captured it nicely and it did fly once to within 75 feet, but I could not get the long lens to focus that close more than one or two quick shots. Here are several pictures of him and other Grand Strand sights. A bird this nice could push me over the edge, Someone may spot me soon slathered in sunscreen and bugspray, wearing a funny hat and carrying binoculars that cost more than several of my first cars, Just like the guys I saw today at Huntington Beach State Park.

Just Caught A Shrimp

Looks Mad?

MAybe this is why? It says, "No Shellfish Harvesting"

Sunday, July 24, 2016

More Summer Orchids

The days are getting shorter already but there are many wildflowers yet to see. For this post, I had only to walk down the road to a neighbors wet field to see Purple Fringless Orchids and around my home for Yellow Fringed and Rattlesnake Orchids.

The Purple Fringless Orchids are a variety of colors. Typically, they are bubblegum pink, but as shown here, there are many shades, even a white.
This first one, and several like it were pink with whitish lower parts.

The white is my favorite; the flower looks like miniature ghosts. There were a couple white ones in previous years, but I only found one this year. The field is waist deep in grass and other plants, but fortunately, had not been cut for hay this year .

Yellow Fringed Orchid

Rattlesnake Orchid 

Cloud formation puts you in mind of the Cross